Grand National: Moore and McManus plan Wylde Irish party

Sue Montgomery expects a nation's 22-year-old drought to end in the National

It is exactly 150 years since a gelding called Matthew became the first of only 16 Irish-trained winners of the Grand National. And if victory for a horse from Ireland would be appropriate next Saturday, then for Wylde Hide it would be doubly so. For he is trained by Arthur Moore, whose father Dan sent out the last of the heroes from the Emerald Isle, L'Escargot in 1975.

A former Irish amateur champion as a rider, 45-year-old Moore, based near Naas in Co Kildare, is no stranger to success in Britain as a trainer - he described Klairon Davis's victory in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham last year as the best moment of his career - but has yet to see one of his Grand National runners finish. The best of his previous six was Wylde Hide himself, who was just beginning to creep into the reckoning last year when he unseated Francis Woods at the second Canal Turn.

In the past week the lightly raced 10-year-old, owned by the legendary Irish punter J P McManus, has been significantly backed to make amends. His season has been quietly geared to another tilt at the Aintree marathon; he has raced only three times this term, producing an eye-catching performance second time out at Leopardstown in December when he ran New Co to a length in a three-mile Grade Two contest, giving him 10lb, with Time For A Run, in receipt of 12lb, eight lengths behind. Back at Leopardstown earlier this month the son of Strong Gale showed himself in good heart with a front-running success from lesser opposition.

His jumping is sound, he stays well, seems still to be on the upgrade, will act on good ground or softer, and, once the jockeys' pre-National carousel stops spinning, may have the valuable assistance of the Irish champion Charlie Swan, seeking his first National win, in the saddle.

One of the features of this year's race is the effect the presence of the top-weight Master Oats has had on the handicap. The 1995 Gold Cup winner, now seemingly a light of other days, will only run if the ground is soft, but unless he is withdrawn at tomorrow's or Thursday's declaration stages the weights will remain as they are, with only 10 other horses racing off their correct marks above the minimum 10st. Wylde Hide, rated on 9st 13lb, the present favourite Lord Gyllene (9-13) and even Go Ballistic (9-8), are relatively kindly affected, but others further down the list are so "wrong" at the weights as they stand at the moment that they will surely struggle. But if the weights rise, the race would take on a different complexion with a horse like Time For A Run, trained for McManus by Eddie O'Grady, meriting respect.

Suny Bay is another who would have to buck a long-standing trend, bidding as he is to become the first grey to score since Nicolaus Silver in 1961. An eight-year-old by Roselier, he has always been highly regarded by his trainer, Charlie Brooks, but is a fragile individual, prone to breaking blood-vessels.

But he has won all bar one of his completed outings, and was enormously impressive when producing an immaculate round of jumping to trounce Into The Red and St Mellion Fairway (a runner in tomorrow's Irish National) at Haydock in February, and if anyone can nurse him round a gruelling four and a half miles, Jamie Osborne can. Owned by Brooks's landlord, Robert Cohen, he is one of several whose presence is dependent on cut in the ground.

In recent years classy horses who have run well in the Gold Cup have been thereabouts in the National, notably last year's winner Rough Quest. The Cheltenham form is represented this year by Go Ballistic, who stayed on tremendously well to take fourth place and already has an Aintree link, for his owner Sheila Lockhart was named after the 1948 winner Sheila's Cottage. He will be a first National runner for his trainer, John O'Shea, but his rider, Mick Fitzgerald, will be trying to emulate Bryan Marshall (Early Mist 1953, Royal Tan 1954), the last to score in successive years on different horses.

Lord Gyllene, a top novice in New Zealand, emerged as a live candidate once he was tried over extreme trips this season, a winning run of three culminating in victory in the four mile, two furlong National Trial at Uttoxeter. The nine-year-old, trained by Steve Brookshaw (whose late uncle Tim was paralysed in a fall at Aintree in 1963), lost little caste when defeated under top-weight over the same course and distance two weeks ago, but may find a few too quick.

Lo Stregone, favoured by cut, will stay every yard, though probably not fast enough. The quirky Challenger Du Luc will either love it or hate it, but if the course shocks him into doing his best he has a touch of class. Jenny Pitman can never be under- estimated at Aintree, and Smith's Band looks her best hope.

This year's race, the world's most valuable steeplechase at pounds 250,000- added, does not look a vintage renewal. Wylde Hide can bridge a 22-year generation gap and take the prize back to Ireland.

Fences to be taken into consideration

1st fence: Bishops Hall, running in his third National on Saturday, has yet to get beyond the first obstacle. He fell in 1995 and unseated his rider last year.

3rd (Westhead): The first of five open ditches and even horses with Aintree experience can have trouble with it. Party Politics, the 1992 National winner, fell here last year.

6th (Becher's Brook first time): The most notorious but, since being modified, has proved less troublesome. No horse has departed here in the last two years.

7th (Foinavon): At 4ft 6in, the smallest on the course. And, although L'Escargot almost fell at the fence on his way to winning in in 1975, the obstacle has caused relatively little trouble since the horse who gave the fence its name profited from the 1967 pile-up.

8th (Canal Turn first time): Field takes a 90 degree left-hand turn upon jumping this obstacle.

9th (Valentine's Brook): An only slightly paler imitation of the daunting Becher's.

11th (Booth): The second open ditch.

15th (The Chair): At 5ft 2in, the highest with an open ditch wide enough to drive a car through but, another which has claimed no casualties in the last two years.

19th (Westhead second time round): Fourth open ditch.

22nd (Becher's Brook second time): In 1985 West Tip - heavily backed and carrying less weight than when winning the race the following year - was cantering in the lead when falling at this obstacle.

24th (Canal Turn second time): The bogey fence for both Wylde Hide and Son Of War last year. Both horses unseated their riders at this obstacle in 1996.

25th (Valentine's Brook second time)

27th (Booth second time): Fifth and final open ditch.

Montgomery's first four

1 Wylde Hide

2 Suny Bay

3 Time For A Run

4 Go Ballistic

Longshot: Feathered Gale

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Infrastructure Technical Lead - up to £45k DOE - Surrey

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Technical Architect - Surrey - £35k-£45k DOE - Permanent

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Infrastructure / Network Engineer (VMware, Windows, LAN/WAN)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week